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Excerpted with permission from The New Bloody Mary: More Than 75 Classics, Riffs & Contemporary Recipes for the Modern Bar by Vincenzo Marianella and James O. Fraioli. Copyright: Skyhorse Publishing, 2017.

Have you ever walked into a party, bar, or restaurant and feasted your eyes on a custom Bloody Mary bar? Oh, it is a beautiful sight to behold. As though we are children exploring a candy store, the variety of colors and cornucopia of yummy eats immediately draws our attention. It makes us eager to display our creativity and enjoyment of favorite tastes by selecting what goes in our glass from the delicious bounty displayed on a beautifully decorated table. Best of all, a Bloody Mary bar can be easily duplicated at home.

To begin, you'll need a sturdy table with plenty of room. A tablecloth is always a nice touch. Try to select a variety of different sized and colored bowls and serving trays to hold the condiments. Large retailers and discounted shops are ideal places to find a variety of decorative bowls and vessels. Vintage and secondhand stores, even garage sales, are good places to find vintage serving sets to give your Bloody Mary bar a distinguished look.

You will also want to have a chilled appetizer-serving tray on hand to display and keep your perishable foods fresh. Have fun with labels describing the various condiments by using a chalkboard or artistically printed or handmade signs to describe all the drink options.

Here are some general steps to get you going:

Step 1: Like a food buffet line, begin at one side of the table, placing all of your clean drinking vessels (no fingerprints please) on a fancy serving tray. Next to the tray, arrange several pitchers of some of the different color (yellow, orange, green, red) Bloody Mary mixes featured in The New Bloody Mary . You'll want the mixes cold, so display them in a shallow, stylish party tub filled with crushed ice.

Step 2: Create a salt and seasoning rim station by placing several large saucers in a triangle with each saucer containing different salt and seasoning rims, which are also featured throughout The New Bloody Mary. Next to the saucers, include a bowl full of citrus wedges (limes, lemons, and oranges) to moisten the rims. Make sure to label each rim salt and seasoning, and include what rims pair best with the other ingredients on the table.

Step 3: On a serving tray next to the pitchers of colorful mixes, arrange the liquor options and the ice bucket and tongs. The list of liquor selections and infusions are long and varied. Select a few to display, as it's always nice to see bottles of tequila, bourbon, gin, and an interesting infusion next to that plain ol' bottle of vodka.

Step 4: Next, place the condiments and garnishes in a variety of serving bowls or trays, and arrange on a large serving tray. Make sure all perishable items like seafood, cheese, and vegetables are served on ice, and include a stylish container filled with cocktail picks and skewers. Don't forget plenty of cocktail napkins and a couple bar spoons for stirring (for a Bloody Mary bar, it's best to have guests stir their drinks and not shake, so leave the shaker off the table and thereby avoid unnecessary spills and cleanups).

In The New Bloody Mary, authors Vincenzo Marianella and James O. Fraioli offer plenty of recipes and examples of what to display at your next Bloody Mary bar.

Click here to see their recipe for Beetnik Mary

March 2017

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